Andy Murray’s bid for his first title in more than two years ended in defeat to Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in the final of the Sydney Tennis Classic.
The Scot has enjoyed his best week since his 46th career title in Antwerp in October 2019, but he was overwhelmed by Karatsev’s overwhelming power.
The top seed beat winners from all parts of the court to secure a 6-3, 6-3 win for his third ATP Tour title.
Karatsev was one of the most surprising Grand Slam semi-finalists in history when he finished in the last four as an unannounced qualifier in Melbourne 12 months ago.
But the 28-year-old, who previously spent his entire career on the lower echelons of the tennis circuit, has since proven he belongs at the top of the sport by breaking into the top 20 and winning titles in Dubai and Moscow last year.
He defeated Dan Evans in the semifinals in Sydney to avoid a first-ever all-British ATP Tour final and broke Murray’s serve in the first game.
The Scot paid for a low percentage of first serve in the opening set but Karatsev excelled, taking half his points with Winners and committing just four unforced errors.
Murray was fast behind in the second set as well, and five missed break points in game five proved his only chance to get back into the match.
The defeat means the 34-year-old will also have to wait to make it back into the top 100, but he can travel to Melbourne with confidence for the Australian Open and a rematch with Nikoloz Basilashvili – whom he met in the second round this week defeated – on Tuesday .
There was a title in Adelaide for Britain’s Neal Skupski, who won two silverware with his new Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof.
The men’s singles title went to Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years and roared with joy as he claimed his first main tour title in his hometown and Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-7 (6) 7- 6 defeated (5) 6-3.
Madison Keys captured her first silver since 2019, beating Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 in the women’s, while Karatsev’s victory was an impressive 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory for Spain’s Paula Badosa the French was preceded by Open winner Barbora Krejcikova.
Both will calculate their chances of success at the Australian Open.